Despite government’s prevention, Italy’s Catholic bishops offered to care for a majority of 140 migrants

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Italy: Catholic leaders reject politics at migrants’ expense

Source: Associated Press

By FRANCES D’EMILIO

ROME (AP) — Italy’s Catholic bishops offered to care for a majority of 140 migrants the country’s government had prevented from leaving an Italian coast guard ship docked for days in a Sicilian harbor because politics shouldn’t be practiced at the expense of the poor, prominent churchmen said Sunday.

Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, told Italian state TV the bishops worked with Italy’s Interior Ministry “in a spirit of collaboration” to help end the stalemate over where the asylum-seekers the coast guard ship rescued would go.

Parishes will care for some 100 migrants, while Albania and Ireland each will accept about 20 under an arrangement announced late Saturday night by Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte. The majority of the migrants were disembarked from the Diciotti at a dock in Catania early Sunday.

The ship rescued 190 migrants on Aug. 16, most of them young men fleeing harsh rule in Eritrea, and docked in Catania four days later. Anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini refused to let passengers who were not minors or ill off the ship until fellow European Union nations volunteered to take the asylum-seekers.

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